At times in court, Gerry “The Monk” Hutch would drop that serious, inscrutable expression as he listened to some of the light-hearted banter between him and ex-Sinn Féin member Jonathan Dowdall, secretly recorded on equipment installed in Dowdall’s gardaí 4×4 .
For three days this week, the Special Criminal Court listened to 10 hours of conversations between Hutch and Dowdall, his former boyfriend who has since agreed to appear at his trial for the 2016 Regency Hotel murder of David Byrne, a member of the Kinahan gang, against to testify him .
The footage was taken on Monday March 7, just over a month after the attack, when Hutch and Dowdall were reportedly driving to Northern Ireland for a meeting with senior members of the Continuity IRA (CIRA) organized by Dowdall through his Republican connections had been .
The court had previously been told that Hutch had asked Dowdall to arrange the meeting in order to get the terrorists to mediate the Hutch/Kinahan feud and stop the killing.
Two things were immediately apparent from the tapes, which provide a fascinating glimpse into what went on behind the scenes of the most famous gang war in Irish history.
The first was how Hutch desperately tried to end the bloodshed that had already claimed his brother Eddie’s life by making peace with the Kinahans and Byrnes.
The second was that the IRA men grossly exaggerated their ability to stop the madness.
The dramatic footage also gave us a rare glimpse into the personality of a man whose mystique rests in his ability to never show his emotions or lose his guard for fear of giving even the slightest hint as to what he’s thinking or feeling .
Hutch has never been comfortable with unnecessary violence or the greed that fuels drug traffickers like Daniel Kinahan and his countrymen.
But as we watched Hutch across the crowded, shackled courtroom as he listened to the exchange between himself, former Dublin Councilor Sinn Féin and a member of CIRA, one could make a rare, accurate guess as to what was on his mind.
First, he must have wondered how or why he ever let himself be taken in by the belief that the Northern Republicans had the influence or power to intervene with the Kinahans.
After meeting in an alleyway in Strabane, Co Tyrone, the supposed army councilor in the bugged 4×4, a Nordic accent was heard, assuring Hutch that there is “no gray area at CIRA, they take care of you, they take care of you about your family”. The tapes revealed that the Republican hardmen had contacted the Kinahans to set up a meeting and told a cartel representative to fuck off because they wanted to meet the Kinahans.
From the dialogue picked up by the Garda’s listening devices, it was obvious that Hutch had doubts about the paramilitaries and he suspected they were probably trying to get their own nests out of the situation – something all IRAs, including the Provos, have gone through the decades.
Hutch’s doubts turned to grim reality fairly quickly after that infamous meeting, when just over two weeks later the killing spree increased with the murder of the monk’s best friend, Noel “Kingsize” Duggan.
Duggan was one of a further 13 people who died in the ensuing violence because they were either members of the Hutch family or close friends of The Monk.
During footage played in court this week, Dowdall appeared to go to great lengths to flatter The Monk and reassure him that his pals could do the business for him.
One wonders what the former Sinn Féin councilman would have said to Hutch as the death toll continued to mount in the months following the fateful meeting. The murders included two other nephews and another lifelong friend, not to mention two completely innocent men who were gunned down for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Clearly, the reason Gerry Hutch asked the Northern paramilitaries for help was desperation. He spoke of how the Kinahans allegedly asked an associate to set him up and provided him with the guns to do the job.
Hutch said he wanted to “sit down” and “we will have peace” because “everyone is advising a truce.” It was, argued The Monk, “the best option or go to war”. “I don’t want anyone else to get hurt,” he said, “I want it put to bed and I want to be able to go out there and nab those assassins.”
We had to remember that despite his tough, insensitive nature, Hutch was a man stricken with grief at the time – and he was afraid of what was about to happen to his family and friends. “All the heartbreak that was left behind,” he said, probably with his own hidden feelings in mind.
Too many people were being shot and he lamented how violent the criminal underworld had become. It has to be “different”.
Whether the recordings will be admitted by the court as evidence will be decided next week.
But whatever that decision may be, and whatever the consequences, the public has had an unprecedented insight into the mind of Ireland’s most intriguing criminal.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crime/a-rare-glimpse-inside-the-mind-of-gerry-the-monk-hutch-as-death-toll-from-bloody-gang-feud-mounted-42175015.html A rare glimpse into Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch as the death toll from bloody gang feuds mounts